Sunday Mornings at the Movies.
Welcome back to the Church of Corinth. Corinthians: the Sequel (aka 2 Corinthians: Volume 13 of Heavenly Citizens in Earthly Shoes) is now available as paperback and eBook. Don’t miss the exciting conclusion to the movie. It is heart wrenching as all get-out, let me tell you. Surprise endings are the icing on the cake, and this is some tasty cake! Simply click here to order.
Oh, but a sequel is always more comprehensible if its parent movie is seen first, and then the prequel afterwards. So you would do well to read 1 Corinthians: Volume 12 first, and then read 2 Corinthians: Volume 13. But not to fret. You can still enjoy the sequel, should you choose to skip her mama. So what are you waiting for? Get yourself to our online bookstore and fetch your own copy! Simply click here to order.
Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called [Ephesians 4:1].
Paul insisted on grace, James on works. Are the two mutually exclusive? Let’s continue this analysis now.
Theologically, grace is a free gift, while works demands a paycheck earned. The two are mutually exclusive theologically.
Now consider the matter in practical terms of day-to-day living. If I plant some corn in the ground, what can I expect to happen? Would you believe a corn stalk should grow out of the ground and ears of corn then grow on the corn stalk? If nothing grows, what can we conclude? We conclude that the corn seed is dead. It is sterile.
It is simple practical reasoning, is it not? James—as well as the Hebrews in general—took such an approach. Should someone claim to know the Lord Jesus and be born again, yet they lived like the pagans, James challenged them, “Faith without works is dead.” And you know, he was right on. The fellow who made claims to salvation was all talk and no walk. He begged the question of his salvation.
Paul had a different approach, a Gentile approach, as I phrased it earlier. Paul noted how life comes from God. The corn can only grow if God gives it life. Man can only cooperate with God, as he attempts to live in God’s world. When God blesses man, it is His grace at work, not His obligation to pay man for his works.
In the case of the corn, God wasn’t obligated to make the corn grow. Man planted it, so did God owe him a living? Not so. Fact of the matter is, when the corn did grow, man owed God his gratitude for God’s gift to Him. Every good and perfect gift is from God. It’s not so practical, is it? No, it’s not. It is theoretical, abstract, theological.
Given this hypothetical example of the corn and James’ analysis as contrasted with Paul’s, we note how the two apostles talked apples and oranges. They didn’t speak on the same subject. It only appears like it.
James talked about how to live as a Christian, while Paul talked about how to become a Christian. Paul said, “Saved by grace through faith apart from the works of the Law.” James said, “Faith without works is dead.”
The two apostles weren’t arguing with each other. James talked Hebrew practicality: if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck… Paul talked Gentile abstraction: God’s unfathomable love, His mysterious dealings with man, and life as it exists in eternity.
Even after expounding on this distinction, however, we still miss out on the fullness of Paul’s letters. We began this study by quoting Ephesians 4:1. The verse is significant to our purposes in this study, in that it cuts Paul’s letter in half. I don’t mean in terms of size alone, with the first half comprising 50% and the second half the other 50%.
Oops! Out of time again. Not to worry. A little time with the Lord Jesus now, and tomorrow we will finish this topic. See you then!
To further research this issue, I direct you to my book Numbers: Volume 4 of Heavenly Citizens in Earthly Shoes. To purchase my books please go to: